With what is happening in the world, I have had a lot of time to listen and reflect about various aspects of our society in regards to race. Me being a white man will never fully be able to understand the experiences of those in the black community. However I can reach out to them, listen, speak up when I see injustice, and join with my brothers and sisters in fighting for just and equal systems.
When I was a kid, my father was the pastor of our local Community of Christ which was located in a small town mostly comprised of white people. One woman in our congregation was married to a black man who she would bring with her to church. Me being a kid didn't think twice about it. This man and I built a friendship over the years through common interests.
When I was a teenager, years after my father passed away unexpectedly, this man and I were talking. The man said the first time he came to our Community of Christ congregation he was worried about being accepted for his skin color and his interracial marriage. He had faced racism from the surrounding community and didn't know how church would be. When he walked in the door, my father immediately stopped what he was doing up front in preparation for the service, came back, shook his hand, and welcomed him. This one act put some of his worries aside knowing the leader of this congregation cared enough about him as a person to walk straight back and welcome him. To this man, this small act of acceptance and welcoming meant so much more.
It is this radical welcoming of people for who they are, both their similarities and differences to which we are called as disciples.
What Can We Do
These last few weeks have been quite a ride for many of us as we have been faced with the racism that still exists and ostracizes part of our population. The killing of unarmed black men have been senseless and do not reflect the values we seek as followers of God. The current systems in place are not holding to the standards we deem appropriate. We believe in the inestimable worth of all people which means things need to change to ensure all truly feel they have a place at the table.
Now how do we do that? I don't know entirely. I acknowledge I do not fully understand the issues because of my own bias and privilege, but I am willing to listen and sit with the stories of those in the black community who are living in the injustice without inserting my opinion. I can research systematic racism to have a greater understanding of the issues. I can consciously be friends with those from different cultures and backgrounds than myself. I can teach my kids about racism and read books about other cultures. I can join in the non-violent protests using my voice and actions. Like many of you I have a lot to learn and understand, but I cannot be silent when I see or hear of injustice.
We as individuals have a power to enact change. Saying its not my problem turns our back on our power as individuals and as a collective society. So I encourage you to look for ways to act, use your voice, and help change society for the better so that all those oppressed, abused, downtrodden, no matter your skin color, income, past, etc. will be accepted for who they are and have equal rights and voice.
Thank you to all those who follow along. Please comment about your thoughts and feelings over the past few weeks.
This week reach out and listen to those in the black community and hear their stories.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.